According to Michael Levine, Author of "Tap, Click, Read," more than two thirds of American fourth graders are not reading at grade level or “proficiently,” (Nation’s Report card 2015). For children in low income families and children of color, the numbers are even worse: more than 80 percent are not hitting the proficient mark. Levine recommends "build upon the assets such as dual language learning and rich cultural knowledge inherent in the United States’ diversity."
Speaking multiple languages is the norm, not the exception in many parts of the world. Even in the United States, roughly 12.9% of individuals over the age of five reported that they spoke a language other than English at home in 2013, representing an increase of 117% since 1990 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013).
Yet many of the apps we see today for kids still lack the best pedagogy, multicultural characters and/or ethnically relevant storytelling. As a Hispanic adult, I'm still annoyed by how Hollywood portrays minorities and by the hateful rhetoric in today's political discourse (Mexicans are rapists). It's important to provide early learners with opportunities to see their culture presented in a positive way to help build self-esteem, promote diversity and acceptance among all children. Therefore, in our app we've intentionally delineated strategies to effectively increase language acquisition, empower kids by shining a positive light on their culture and encourage parental engagement in their child's mobile learning experience.
At about age 2 years, children begin to notice gender and racial differences. At 2 ½ or so, children learn gender labels (boy/girl) and the name of colors which they begin to apply to skin color. Around 3 years of age, children notice physical disabilities. At about 4-5 years, they start to display gender appropriate behavior and become fearful of differences. Therefore, introducing diversity at an early age is important and often overlooked. We believe in celebrating diverse cultures, gender, styles and race, so we can help kids see themselves in a positive light and learn that being different is ok as we're all human beings.